Cancellation, Abandonment: Russia Becomes Undesirable in Sports

The invasion of Ukraine led to more punitive measures across the sporting world on Saturday, a day after Russia was stripped of hosting the Champions League final, which was moved from St Petersburg to Paris.

While UEFA is still deliberating on whether to terminate the 40 million euro annual sponsorship contract with Russian state-owned gas giant Gazprom, the Champions League final will not be held in Saint Petersburg but in Paris, on May 28 but at a price of 80 thousand euros. A seat in the Stade de France.

The decision to strip Russia of the honor to host was announced on Friday, when UEFA also announced that Russian and Ukrainian clubs and national teams competing in international tournaments must play home matches at neutral venues “until further notice”.

Spartak Moscow in the Europa League is the only club from Russia or Ukraine that is still in European competition this season.

And Poland announced, on Saturday, that it would refuse to play in the World Cup qualifiers on March 24 against Russia next month, under the pretext of invading Ukraine. “The time for talking is over. It is time for action. Due to the escalation of the Russian Federation’s aggression in Ukraine, the Polish team is not considering a play-off against Russia,” wrote Polish Football Association President Cesari Kuleza.

His Swedish counterpart followed suit later on Saturday. “Whatever FIFA decides, we will not play against Russia in March,” FIFA president Karl-Eric Nilsson said.

Poland was due to play in Moscow on March 24, while Sweden will face the Czech Republic.

Kulesa said he would work with the Swedish and Czech federations – the winners of their match play in Russia on March 29 if the latter beat Poland – to present a unified stand to FIFA.

The three confederations issued a joint statement on Thursday asking FIFA to move the play-off matches from Russia, which just four years ago hosted the World Cup finals.

Captain Robert Lewandowski welcomed his union move. “The right decision!” Bayern Munich star striker tweeted.

“Russian football players and fans are not responsible for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing happened.”

It’s the right decision! I can’t imagine playing a match with the Russian national team in a situation where armed aggression continues in Ukraine. Russian football players and fans are not to blame for this, but we can’t pretend that nothing happened. https://t.co/rfnfbXzdjF

– Robert Lewandowski (@lewy_official) February 26, 2022 Formula 1 announced Friday that it will cancel the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi, scheduled for September 25. Pressure on organizers increased after defending champion Max Verstappen and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel said they would not go to Sochi.

The Black Sea resort was due to host the race for the last time before heading to Saint Petersburg next year.

The invasion could cost Haas dearly because Dmitriy Mazepin, the father of their Russian driver Nikita, is the non-executive director of title sponsor Uralkali and a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged sports bodies to cancel or move all events scheduled for Russia and Belarus and stop using the two countries’ flags and national anthems.

Russia broke the Olympic truce by invading Ukraine on Thursday, just four days after the closing ceremony of the Winter Games in Beijing. Some Russian forces entered Ukraine from Belarus, a staunch ally of Russia.

This is the third Russian breach of the Olympic truce in the past 14 years. Russia invaded Georgia during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing and annexed Crimea shortly after the end of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The IOC said the governing bodies “must take into account the breaches of the Olympic armistice by the Russian and Belarusian governments and give absolute priority to the safety and security of athletes”.

The IOC statement signaled a fresh disapproval of President Vladimir Putin, who has generously funded sporting events and is still courted by IOC President Thomas Bach and FIFA President Gianni Infantino despite the country’s record of spoiling high-profile sporting competitions with state-sponsored doping schemes. over the past decade.

But the backlash against embracing Russian state-owned companies as sponsors of the sport led to Manchester United dropping the Aeroflot business deal. The Premier League giant referred to the “events in Ukraine” after the airline was banned in Britain as part of sanctions against Putin’s regime.

The International Ski Federation has announced that Russia will not host any of the World Cup events this winter.

The Norwegian Ski Federation’s executive board said on Saturday it did not want Russian athletes to participate in the upcoming World Cup and world championships in Norway.

“Russia’s violations of international law and its attacks on the Ukrainian people require international condemnation and sanctions,” the Norwegian Football Association said in a statement.

“Sport is not separate from this and cannot remain negative for what is happening now.

“The message of the Norwegian Ski Federation to Russia and the Russian athletes is crystal clear – we don’t want your participation.”

Norway is set to host combined alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and Nordic skiing events over the next few weeks.

Tennis The International Tennis Federation has canceled all events in Russia indefinitely.

The European Curling Championship, scheduled for November in Perm, Russia, will also be relocated.

The International Biathlon Federation (IBU) also took action after the International Olympic Committee called on sports federations on Friday to prevent the national flags of Russia and Belarus from being hoisted at sporting events.

“It is not possible to display Russian or Belarusian national flags, symbols or emblems at the venue,” the association said in a statement.

“Instead of the flags of the countries, the flag of IBU will be displayed.”

Russian and Belarusian athletes are still allowed to compete in the remaining three events but as neutral competitors.

However, Estonia, which hosts the penultimate event in Otepaeae from March 10-13, has banned Russian and Belarusian athletes from entering the country.

The Swedes are proposing a boycott of all competitions hosted in Russia and a ban banning any Russian athlete from competing in the European Union.

The Swedish government said it would try to persuade the other 27 countries in the European Union to impose a blanket sports ban on Russia “as long as the invasion of Ukraine continues”.

“The most important thing is for the Russian aggression to stop,” Swedish Sports Minister Anders Yegman said in a statement.

“If the European Union decides to boycott a sport, it will help achieve that goal.”

Reuters

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